The One Mistake To Avoid When Mixing Metals In Your Home

Lindsey Cheek Wilmington, NC Home White Kitchen with Teal Tile and Banquet Seating
Photo: Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

For anyone who has renovated a bathroom or kitchen, the question has inevitably come up: Do all of my fixtures and hardware need to match? Even homeowners who consider themselves pretty savvy designers can be stumped by picking out metal finishes. The old-fashioned rule that says you shouldn't mix silver and gold (the same one we were told about jewelry) is simply that: old-fashioned. A quick scroll through popular Pinterest kitchens would show you that mixing metals not only looks okay, but can look extremely chic. However, once you open yourself up to mixed metals, it can still be tricky to decide which metals to use, and where. Here are our tips for mixing metals in your home and what to avoid.

Choose From Different Color Families

Because they're able to make a big impact on a space, it isn't wrong to put such an emphasis on the metals you use in your home; however, incorporating multiple finishes into a space doesn't have to be as challenging as you may think. There are lots of tips out there for making it work, but there's one rule of thumb we always follow when it comes to mixing metals: Don't mix two metals in the same color family. Pick either shiny chrome or satin nickel—the two are similar in color but actually have different undertones and won't create a cohesive space when used side-by-side. Ditto with aged brass and shiny gold. Also, be careful of using the same lusters, like shiny chrome and shiny gold. Instead, shiny chrome and aged brass won't compete with one another. When it comes to mixing metals, you want the variety to be obvious and look intentional—when it is, the results are beautiful. When you use two metals in one space that almost match, it can give off the appearance that you weren't able to find one of your fixtures in the right finish, or didn't notice the difference yourself.

Choose Complementary Colors

There are a few other simple tips key to nailing the mixed-metal look: Choose two, maybe three metals that complement one another. A mixture of cool tones like nickel and chrome and warm tones like brass and gold provides balance. One should be the dominant, more pervasive finish throughout the space (think: your cabinet hardware and light fixtures). The second can be an accent (think: your mirrors or faucets). Be sure to use the dominant finish not just on the more prominent features, but on more elements throughout the space. Your eye will follow the similar finish throughout, creating a balance for whatever other finish(es) you decide to add in.

Opt for Neutral

Chrome, nickel, bronze, and brass are all popular metal finishes, but if you're looking for another finish that's easy to add to the mix, both black and glass can serve as neutrals in almost any space. If you're wary of combining silver with your brass, or vice versa, one of these neutral finishes can add a more modern touch to a completely matchy-matchy room.

Make a Statement

Using the same metal finish throughout a room can lack depth. Adding another metal provides interest, the same way mixing fabrics and colors does. For example, an antique brass light fixture adds an unexpected surprise to a stainless steel kitchen. A black mirror flanked by aged brass lighting is the focal point in a bathroom with chrome fixtures. Think of mixing metals as an opportunity to showcase an interesting piece that you love.

Use Metals Throughout the Space

Don't limit mixing your metals to one special piece though. Add touches throughout the room. If your cabinet hardware and lighting match, add a complementary faucet. Furniture or decorations with metal accents also add effect. A mixed-metal piece that combines your finishes can also tie the look together.

Use One Metal Per Item

To avoid going overboard with metal mixing, limit the metals used on each item. If door knobs or drawer pulls are chrome, don't use brass hooks or hinges on the same piece, even if it's used elsewhere in the room. The item should have an intentional look. An exception is a piece that is designed with a mixture of metals.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles